Pneumatic artificial muscles (PAMs) provide numerous advantages for use as actuators in a wide variety of mechanical systems. Our study focused on determining the effects of braid angle on the performance of PAMs. This paper discusses how we constructed a set of PAMs with varying braid angle, predicted their performance using analytical models, gathered empirical data characterizing the PAMs, and compared the analytical predictions with the experimental results. We constructed six PAMs of different braid angles between 38° and 73°. To predict PAM performance, we used an analysis based on the force equilibrium equations for a pressurized actuator. We first quantified the performance limits of each actuator in a series of static characterization tests. Then we subjected each PAM to cyclical displacement testing. Finally, a series of cyclical tests were performed with a pre-strain applied to the PAMs, to better approximate their typical use. Our results showed variation of braid angle causes significant differences in performance among the six PAMs tested; PAMs with larger braid angle generated higher blocked force and exhibited greater contraction. The empirical data matched the model predictions based on our estimates for the braid angle of a given PAM.

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